In a new study from the University of Nottingham, researchers found women who replaced an afternoon diet drink with water lost more weight and had better insulin sensitivity.
The study involved 81 overweight and obese women with type 2 diabetes who were all self-reported habitual consumers of diet drinks.
Scientists asked them either to substitute water for diet drinks or to continue drinking diet drinks five times a week after their lunch for 24 weeks.
Both groups of women were allowed to drink water at other times but were not allowed to have diet drinks at any other time.
The two groups were also asked not to drink anything while eating their lunch and not to add low-calorie sweeteners to drinks such as tea or coffee.
The team found that the women drinking water after their main meal at lunchtime over 24 weeks lost on average 1.16 kilograms more than the women who drank diet drinks after their meal.
They think that by drinking water instead of sweet-tasting diet drinks, the women may be adhering better to the weight loss diet because artificial sweeteners may increase the desire for sweetened and more energy-dense foods.
They also found that the women who drank water achieved a better improvement in insulin sensitivity.
Their results question whether consuming diet drinks is the most effective way for people with diabetes to manage their condition.
But since the consumption of diet soda is higher among people with diabetes, the potential implications of the study need further and larger-scale research.
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The study is published in the journal Diabetes, Obesity, and Metabolism. One author of the study is Ian Macdonald.
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